Don’t bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan! Pick up an eggplant and transform it into crispy “bacon”—naturally! Seriously, your body won’t miss the preservative-laden bacon in this BLT. The eggplant “bacon” will still please your tastebuds in every way!
To make this finger food, my preference is to stick with this recipe as is, of course. However, it’s totally okay if you want to make personalized tweaks. Instead of whole grain rolls, try grilled whole grain baguette slices. Rather than the avocado spread, you can simply stick with tradition by smearing on a mayo of choice. Or switch up the greens with others from your farmers market.
Any way you stack ’em, these BLT bites will be a fun choice for a picnic or party on the patio. And it’s perfect timing for this recipe—it just so happens these vegan-friendly sliders slide right into the Recipe Redux theme of the month: “Small Plates for Sunny Days.” They’re just the right size to truly satisfy!
Calories saved: 280
Why it’s better for you: There’s no bacon–and no harmful sodium nitrite!
- 1 medium (1-pound) eggplant, cut into 24 extra-thin rounds*
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar or turbinado sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 Hass avocado, pitted and peeled
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 8 small whole-wheat dinner rolls, split, fresh or lightly grilled
- 2 small/medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 8 slices each
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 ounce fresh baby arugula
- Preheat the oven to 275°F. Arrange the eggplant rounds onto 2 large unbleached parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Brush both sides of the eggplant rounds with the olive oil.
- In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder; sprinkle evenly onto the top of each eggplant round. Bake until the eggplant rounds are browned and just crisp, about 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. Transfer eggplant bacon directly to a cooling rack. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow to further crisp.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the avocado, lemon juice, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth.
- Spread the avocado mixture into the rolls. (Hint: Make sure rolls contain no eggs if you wish to keep this recipe vegan.) Place the tomatoes onto the bottom portion of the rolls; sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the eggplant bacon (3 slices each) and arugula. Add the roll tops, secure each slider with a bamboo pick, and serve.
Per serving: 220 calories, 10g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 450mg sodium, 30g total carbohydrate, 6g dietary fiber, 8g sugar, 5g protein
*NOTE: The thinner the better for the eggplant slices. So it you get more than 24 slices, that will work just fine! Before cooking, the eggplant slices I used in this recipe ranged from 2 3/4- to 3 1/2-inches diameter. After cooking, they ranged from 2- to 2 1/2-inches diameter.
The “Before” Version
Inspired by BLT
Per serving: 500 calories, 23g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 50mg cholesterol, 1030mg sodium, 53g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 21g protein
- Sometimes mini-sizing-it makes a recipe more interesting.
- If you can transform a real vegetable, like eggplant, into “bacon,” do it!
- Be sure you’re using fully-ripened tomatoes for optimal umami taste. That means never refrigerating them before enjoying them.
- Don’t be shy with any of the seasonings here!
- A mixture of Hass avocado, lemon juice, and sea salt provides a fresher take on mayonnaise. And it gives a vegan recipe a delicious, simple, and natural upgrade.